For a brief half of a week near the end of November and the culmination of the winter season and the beginning of the cities time to really shine in for the holidays the locals and visitors get to enjoy the vast array of treats in the French Market. Located on Frederick Street near the west end, the market packs into the little side street and fills with vendors come from France bringing a bit of foreign and exotic tastes to Edinburgh for the holidays. This is a great end of town to be in any way at this time of year, for shopping and sight seeing a like. The bustle of Princes Street doesn't lessen as you reach the west end, but the number and variety of shops and stalls, all decked out for the holidays increases, and the pleasant feel of shopping in a city that loves Christmas is only amplified.
Passing the cart selling the wonderfully warm and aromatic roasted chestnuts, you'll come to Frederick Street, and find all your heart desires in the way of French specialities. It is very easy to get caught up in the festive atmosphere of the place, and the beautiful array of choices... last year I ended up buying an obscene amount of olives that I have to admit were fantastic. Even if you’re not in the market to buy (and you might change your mind once you've seen it) it's great to wander down and see, not least of all for all of the free samples the vendors happily offer passers by.
But if you are looking, there is a fantastic array of selections of olives, cheeses, breads and nuts and dried fruits and crepes... as well as other things like hand bags and home made candles and other gifts you may not be able to find in the shops.
It's a great experience to partake on a cold winter day in Edinburgh. You're right in view of the castle and being just off Princes Street there is often the sound of a festive piper or a local brass band playing Christmas tunes floating up the street. The market begins on November 23rd (which coincides with the Lighting up Festival in Edinburgh where all the cities decorations are lit and the official beginning of the season) and runs through until Sunday the 26th.
Don't get this confused with the German market in Princes Street Gardens, which runs through until Christmas and has a wider variety of things. The French market is largely foods and things of that sort, and though is in town for a much shorter time, is great for picking up those little treats at Christmas.